GBG is a global specialist in digital identity & fraud solutions. Working with data and technology, GBG helps clients balance the growing need for a frictionless digital customer experience with the increasing need to prevent the risk of fraud and financial crime.
Carol Hamilton, Regional Director EMEAA at GBG manages the fraud and compliance solutions business for EMEA at GBG, working with customers to help them tackle any fraud and compliance challenges through market-leading solutions. Here she explains some of the latest fraud threats and how fraud intelligence can combat the issue.
What are the latest fraud threats to banks and their customers?
Fraud is estimated to be a $40billion industry and continues to grow. Over the past year specifically, due to the Covid-19 pandemic transforming the way people bank, we’ve seen a notable increase in specific fraud typologies such as scams and third-party identity theft. Remote working and remote business have provided fraudsters more opportunities than ever before. These criminals are determined to play on the human spirit – messages about missed payments, fines, or even Covid vaccinations are being used to lure in unsuspecting victims.
The world is becoming increasingly digital, and more transactions than ever before are being carried out online. This reliance on technology was accelerated by Covid-19, but we’re seeing threats increase in tandem.
Advancements in technology have been hailed as the saviour for many industries during the pandemic. In the financial services sector, online banking and digital payments, have become vital tools in enabling people to continue their lives, and their businesses. However, with convenience comes challenges. Today, the rise in fraud is fuelled by the vast amounts of data readily available as more people share information, and money, across multiple online platforms. Similarly, many of the same technologies that companies rely on to innovate and introduce new products and services are being hijacked by cybercriminals, who are able to exploit the weaknesses banks’ have in their fraud defences.
Do these threats differ from those that affect other sectors, for example, retailers and insurers?
Fraud continues to be a challenge for all businesses in all sectors. But criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are honing their methods by sector.
In banking specifically, phishing scams remains a top threat. Clients have told us that during the pandemic, there was a sharp rise in customers receiving seemingly legitimate messages requesting they transfer large sums of money. Either messages supposedly from their ‘bank’ asking them to move money to another account, or sadly, preying on human kindness during the pandemic, asking them to transfer money to pay for a Covid-19 test.
The challenges in retail are more around identity theft and information theft as there are opportunities for criminals to abuse retailers’ websites and IT infrastructure and gain access to customer data. Retailers, therefore, need to ensure they are operating securely to protect their customers sufficiently.
Insurance scams, meanwhile, are predominantly around abusing claims such as ‘cash for crash’ schemes. Data is key to unlocking this type of fraud, as it can analyse a fraudster’s behaviour as they move from one fraudulent claim to the next.
Are there different threats in different regions, or are they global?
People can fall victim to fraud anywhere, however, the threat can be very different depending on where you are. This is mainly down to how you can, or cannot, stay safe in a particular region. In some territories it can be really difficult to identify someone as individual data isn’t as readily available, and therefore trust in that identity isn’t always possible. This can leave people vulnerable to identity theft, and without access to valuable data, difficult to combat against.
How can fintech combat these threats?
The better you know and understand your customer, the more confident you can be in understanding the threats they may or may not pose to your organisation. As a result, organisations in all industries need to become more data and intelligence-driven – and technology is the only way to achieve this.
The first step is to gather a large variety of data sources that can identify who a person is, the devices they’re using and reveal their behaviour. The next step, however, is the most crucial. Companies must be able to then process all that data, so that they can make an accurate assessment of the potential fraud threat quickly and make well-informed decisions to prevent fraud. It’s not just about data, it’s about uncovering the intelligence in the data and creating insights that help businesses grow and accept good customers whilst being protected.
This data can be gathered in a variety of ways and can tell us many things about identity. For example, as so much is now done from smartphones and tablets while typically on the move, accurate and reliable data and intelligence sourced from that device can determine how the device is being used and whether it points to suspicious behaviour. Geolocation data is proving to be a powerful weapon against scams as it will flag any unusual activity based on where an individual is. If you live in the UK and the country is in lockdown because of the pandemic, it’s very unlikely you’ll be making card purchases a country thousands of miles away, for example. In addition, we are seeing a rise in biometric data that enables organisations to verify whether a person holding a certain device, or doing a certain transaction, is who they say they are e.g. facial recognition when carrying out a bank transaction.
What are the biggest challenges organisations face when tackling fraud?
The evolving nature of fraud is an ongoing battle. Once an organisation has tackled one area of fraud, the criminals are onto the next thing. Organisations need to be agile and flexible in order to adapt quickly to cope with fresh challenges. One major problem for organisations that operate in the UK versus globally, is access to data. In the UK there is access to data and intelligence via databases such as Cifas, which has been collected and shared to help combat against fraud. However, in countries with limited access to such rich and valuable data, businesses operating in that country may have no idea who is at their front door. If you can truly understand who an individual is, you can onboard more genuine customers and sift out the fraudsters.
Do you think the UK Market is prepared to tackle fraud threats, how does it compare to the rest of the world?
With access to rich and meaningful data, together with huge advancements in technology, it might seem like the UK is prepared to tackle fraud better than other countries. However, new technologies can create new vulnerabilities that need to be plugged. Being progressive and at the forefront of advancements in technologies has its benefits but it comes at a price.
What does the future hold for fraud intelligence?
As we move into a new digital era, we’re seeing organisations adopt sophisticated technologies to help tackle fraud such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has huge potential to detect certain patterns and activities that may not have previously been considered, on a large scale. It can adapt to new and unforeseen threats quickly, while also reducing false positives. It is worth mentioning that AI has to be developed carefully so as to ensure that while it identifies any ‘bad actors’ it does so in a transparent and fair way. However, I predict the adoption of AI and advances in data science to become more mainstream in the future, which will likely go a long way towards winning the war against fraud.